Electric Vehicle drivers are banging the drum for more high speed charging stations in Jasper.
Bert Hogendoorn, from Sechelt, B.C., says that the Yellowhead Highway in Alberta is not EV-friendly and that as a result, more and more EV drivers are choosing to avoid the corridor altogether.
“Jasper remains a critical stop along this route and unfortunately is not served by any larger corporate EV initiative other than the current Tesla proposal,” Hogendoorn wrote to The Jasper Local recently.
Tesla has pitched the installation of EV chargers to Jasper municipal council and this past summer, donated 28 Level Two charging stations to national parks across Canada, including four in Jasper.
But what’s missing in Jasper, Hogendoorn said, are the Level Three fast charging stations. His Kia Soul EV gets 330km on a full charge at highway speed, but the British Columbian said to reach his family in Edson from the nearest Level Three charger in Valemount, 288 kms away, leaves no room for sightseeing. (Since his last visit another two Fast Charge stations have been installed at the Mount Robson Visitor Information Centre).
Sherwood Park resident Stephen Connick knows well the logistical challenges of planning a visit to Jasper in the EV. He and his wife took the trip last February, but it required “a lot of patience,” he said. To make sure they had enough juice to get here, they stopped in Spruce Grove, less than an hour from their house, to top up the battery while they had lunch. They then ambled along at 90 km/hr to ensure they could make it to Hinton, where they plugged into a Level Two charger at a car dealership (“we watched a movie,” he said). Finally they got into Jasper, seven hours after leaving their house, where they plugged into the Level Two chargers at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
“The Yellowhead is a wasteland for EVs,” Connick said. “The ideal spot [for a Fast Charge station] is probably Edson.”
Connick understands why, even in 2020, that hasn’t transpired, when Level Three stations are popping up along transportation routes in southern Alberta. It comes down to numbers and so far, the traffic density along Highway 16 hasn’t convinced private companies to invest.
“There’s not a lot of money to be made in EV fast charging,” Connick said. “The payback is dismal.”
The payback on being an EV driver, however, is great. Connick, who bought his Chevy Bolt in 2018, said between not having to pay for gasoline and regular combustion engine maintenance such as oil changes, it won’t be long before he sees a return on his car’s $40,000 price tag. Yes, EVs lose range in the winter (approximately 20 per cent loss at -10 degrees Celsius; 40 per cent loss at -30 degrees), but he doesn’t have to open his garage door to let it warm up!
“Within the range of the vehicle, it wins in every category,” he said.
Outside of that range, however, gas guzzlers rule the road—until you get to B.C., where BC Hydro has committed to installing Fast Charge stations every 80 kilometres.
“As soon as you go across the border you’re in EV nirvana,” Connick said.
Jasper council is hoping that can change—by way of a July 7 bylaw motioned by councillor Jenna McGrath, Jasper has designated the south end of the Connaught Drive (200 block) municipal parking lot as the location for future EV charging stations. Tesla’s proposal, which would include generic fast chargers as well as proprietary units, is dependent on grant funding, and municipal staff are currently working with Tesla, ZAAP Charge Inc. and the Town of Edson to fast track the fast charging stations.
Hogendoorn, speaking on behalf of EV drivers wishing to travel the Yellowhead highway in both directions, said the initiative can’t come soon enough.
“Now is the time to act, we need this for the new era of transportation,” he said.
Bob Covey// email@example.com